Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day: Reflecting on my time in the Navy. f

Tomorrow we commemorate Veterans Day in our great nation and it always makes me reflect on my time in the service.

I thought I'd answer a couple of questions, an "FAQ," of sorts about my time in the service.  Yes I'm interviewing myself, haha.  But these are all questions I've been asked over the years.

When did you join the Navy and why?
I officially joined the Navy's DEP program in December of 1999.  It was my senior year in high school and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  My friends at the time had all begun to set their sights on colleges, applying for loans and various schools.  This was a very frightening concept for me.  No one in my immediate family had ever been to college, especially away from home.  My cousin Monica at the time had just made the decision to join the Navy.  She's actually six years older than me and called to tell me a little bit about the military.  When the recruiter called me and said if I joined I could travel and get money to go to college, I was sold.  I left for basic training in September 2000.  I was terrified and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  My grandfather and uncle had both served in the army, but no one else in my family had ever been in the military.

How long were you in the military?
I was in the Navy from September 2000-September 2005.

Where were you stationed?
After basic training in Great Lakes, Illinois I was sent to my "A" school training in Fort Meade, Maryland.  Most people know that's where I met Ahron.  "A" school trains you for what you will do out in the fleet.  I took two courses at the Defense Information School, basic journalism and basic broadcasting.  Each course was around three months long with a three month break in the middle.  During that time I visited Washington D.C, Baltimore and Annapolis frequently.  It was the first time I began to realize how big the world really was.

My first set of orders came at the end of school.  Putting my faith fully and completely in God's hands, I chose to quote a bible verse on my dream sheet.  My detailer (the person who assigns you orders) decided to send me to the USS Frank Cable (AS 40) on the tiny island of Guam.

USS Frank Cable (AS 40) September 2001-November 2003.
This is where the majority of my Navy career happened.  Aboard this little sub tender ship in Guam.  I arrived to the ship just a week and a half after September 11, 2001.  Again, I was terrified.  Everything about that time in the world was scary.  We had no idea if we were going to war or not.  When I arrived to the ship, there was high security everywhere.  All of the hatches were shut and we had to access our living areas by scuttle.  Note: The images below are linked, they are not my images.
We were made to wear hard helmets and heavy bulletproof vests.  But as the serious terrorism threat waned, the ship returned to a lesser alert status.  My first six months in Guam were spent living on the ship.  My former classmates in college dorms had nothing on a navy rack.  See picture on right, this is all of the drawer space you have under a thin mattress.  Racks are stacked three high.

One of the cool things in Guam is that there were these little duplex type houses that weren't fit for families anymore, and so after six months us young sailors were able to move into the houses.  During the years I was onboard the Frank Cable, the ship was very active.  We sailed to Saipan (a neighboring island), Japan  (Yokosuka and Sasebo and I visited Tokyo, Atsugi and Nagasaki) Hong Kong, Queensland, Australia and South Korea (sadly I missed that trip because I went home to get married to Ahron for two weeks.  I learned so much being on a Navy ship.  When I look back now, one of the things I realize in retrospect is just how important it is to learn many things onboard, not just your job.  Everybody has to know basic firefighting, ship damage control and first aid/survival skills.  These are imperative to being a sailor.  Of course I hated learning these things at the time but they made me much more knowledgeable.

Toward the end of my career, I didn't care where I was stationed, I just wanted to be able to be with my husband.  So my detailer called in early 2003 with news.   I was getting new orders and would transfer in November.  So my next set of orders took me to a Navy Reserve Readiness Command in San Diego.

NAVRESREDCOM, San Diego (November 2003-September 2005)
I finished out my career in San Diego. Once Ahron and I moved in together I felt peaceful.  I loved the excitement of the ship and the camaraderie it brought, but I was ready to settle down.  Looking back, I was so young, I was only 21.  Who settles down at 21?  Apparently I do.
Work at the reserve command was so different from the ship.  Most days I did simple things around the office like keeping up with paperwork, scanning documents, taking award photos and networking with other public affairs personnel at other reserve commands.  There I also published a small work newsletter.

Why did you get out?
Ahron and I had only been living together for six months when I became pregnant with our daughter Elaine Joy.  As the time neared for me to make a decision about reenlistment, I had to consider that staying in the Navy would make us a dual service couple.  And since we were on the same rotation of sea duty/shore duty, in the future we may be deployed at the same time. The war overseas was just beginning to heat up and navy personnel were being sent to fight on the ground.  After Ahron and I talked it over, we decided it would be best for me to finish up my enlistment and I would stay home and go to school while he would continue the Navy life.

To this day, people will still ask me if I'm in the navy.  It's been just over 10 years since I've been honorably discharged.  I've now been out of the military twice as long as I was in.  Serving my nation in that way was one of the must honored, humbling experiences in my life.  Though I never saw the horrors of war (and believe me I consider myself very lucky) I can still say wholeheartedly, it was an honor to serve.
Thank you to all the men and women who we remember on this great day.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Had a minute

I have a minute while my little Eloise is sleeping so I thought I'd update on where we are now in this busy season of life.

It is nearly November 2015.  My baby girl is about to turn ONE!  It's been such a crazy year filled with so many ups and downs.  As usual, God has taken my expectations and turned them upside down in parenting.

What I expect is never the reality.  Expectations ruin everything and set us up for disappointment.  God has blessed me with a curious, strong-willed baby girl.  Yet she isn't super independent like Elaine or passive like Miles.  She is all her own person.  Sweet, smart, joyful.  She's also very demanding and clingy, and doesn't like to sleep much.  I worked hard and sacrificed like never before through nursing and little sleep with this one.  She has within a doubt been my hardest baby, but I hope that means that God will bear great fruits in her and through her life.

Lately, when I look around my house and the state that my house has been in for the last, oh, year of my life, I think of that old saying that your house reflects the current state of your mind.  Well, that would certainly be accurate in my life at the moment, for it is always a cluttered mess!  I can only give myself grace and remind myself that organization and cleanliness will come again someday.  These are probably silly things that shouldn't give me stress but I am prone to such self-consciousness.

Ahron is settling into the ship routine now.  He's already been onboard for four months.  It's been tough for us as a family.  And he hasn't even deployed yet.  I miss drinking coffee with him in the morning.  He's doing a great job keeping up as a father and a husband and I appreciate his efforts.  The problem with sea duty is that it consumes the sailor.  It becomes incredibly difficult to find work/life balance.

Some exciting things  lie on the horizon for us though.  We are anticipating putting our house on the market in spring.  We have outgrown our first little home.  We need just a little more space to spread out a bit.  In all honesty, I'm kind of nervous for this.  There's something comforting about fitting the wholeness of my family into 1300 square feet.  I don't want to lessen connection with my children, or have them swallowed up in massive square footage.  I don't want more space to clean, or more money to throw at the bank.  So with that in mind we don't want something that much bigger.  Just a little more space to share with our little miracle surprise oopsie baby.

As for myself, I will embark in a new school journey here very shortly.  Teaching at the preschool and teaching parents with the Ready! For Kindergarten program awakened my soul to what I believe is my true calling.  A teacher, a mentor, a counsel and guider, a nurturer, a grower, a mother's heart I hope to instill to many children as my teachers have done for me.  The short plan is to finish my degree in 22 months, so that my GI Bill will cover the cost.  I am so excited to undertake this journey.  God grant me serenity now.

So that is the short of it!  I'm hoping to be able to update this blog more regularly.  I love having a space to throw out into the vastness of the web.  I wish I was an interesting and cool hip mommy blogger sometimes, but this is who I am.  My older daughter is encouraging me to start a vlog too, so we shall see.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Happy birthday, Miles!

Miles Ahron Jameson is EIGHT years old today!

I can hardly believe eight years have passed since I first glanced into the face of my baby boy.  

I always, always have known that I was meant to be a mama to a little boy.  I always knew that he would be unique.  And he is!  God had a plan for this little boy to be in our lives.  He knew Ahron and I could meet the unique needs of this little individual.

I couldn't have known when he was a busy toddler what a roller coaster our lives would soon become.   A speech delay turned into a speech delay and motor skills delay and then, cognitive delays. That was really hard to face.  

Because Ahron and I always knew there was something incredibly sweet and unique about this kid.

An autism diagnosis.  An un-diagnosis.  Miles doesn't fit into any box.  His preschool teacher once described him as an enigma.  That he is!  He is as puzzling as the Rubik's cube he is often fiddling with.  He is sharp as the creases he forms in his beloved origami.  He is loved, he is whole.  He is ours.

Watching him grow thus far has been joyous and sometimes scary.  He's a daredevil and he loves to take risks.  He's incredibly determined.  He taught himself, all on his own, how to ride a bike.   He watched Youtube videos to figure out how to tie shoes in a different way that only takes him "one second."  He's really proud of himself when he accomplishes new things!

Miles is funny and very mischievous.  He likes pranks.  He likes glitches and when things are not normal.  This morning he told me that he is a glitch.  I think he knows he's not "normal."  I think he kind of likes that.

Thank you Miles for being our son.  I hope you grow up and prove all the unbelievers wrong.  We love you all the way to the moon and the sun and stars and all the way back. Happy birthday buddy!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Our new normal

So here I am, single parenting, alone again for the next few months.

Ahron left early on Saturday morning.  Lainie cried on the short drive home, although I think it was the result of just being really tired.  Miles seemed to accept it more, they are so much like us sometimes!

The weekend was gray and drizzly and rainy and none of us felt much like doing anything but just puttering around, trying to pretend like Daddy is away for a short time.

My days are very, very long now and I anticipate them being that way as long as Eloise is a high-needs baby.  She is unfortunately going through a phase where she doesn't want to be around anyone but me and that's making it difficult to do simple things like take a shower, or get chores done around the house.  I've told a few people this but sometimes I miss my old life, and I feel like I've taken a huge step back in having a baby.  The spacing wasn't ideal between Miles and Eloise.  And she was a surprise so it wasn't intentional.

But it is what it is and it will get better.  I'm choosing to look at the glass half full!  She's stinking adorable and Miles and Lainie just adore her, it's so fun to see them interacting with her.  Well, onward and upward to Day 4.  

Friday, February 20, 2015


DISCLAIMER: This blog was written shortly after or during my miscarriages in 2013.

Moments of sadness and happiness.  Life goes so fast, I can't keep up with all.
If I close my eyes I can forget about it for a few moments.  I can slip into a consciousness where I can control my emotions.  Or maybe I just get lost in it.
At the risk of feeling like a Judy Blume character I call, "Are you there God? It's me, Jamie."
Is He there? Is HE really there? I pray it's so.  I pray he's there and my baby is there.  I pray for forgiveness and for hope.  I pray someday I will understand it all.

February 2015 UPDATE!!!


I can't believe I haven't updated this blog in almost two years.  I figure now is a great time to refresh and renew it.  We are getting ready to take the monumental leap back into sea duty.  Sea duty is challenging, scary, rewarding, fulfilling.  It is the heart of the Navy.  At sea, you become a leader and you are constantly in motion.  At sea, you find yourself between the sapphire waves and endless golden sunsets.  You realize how small you are in this big, lovely world.

I miss being in the Navy some days.  I am excited for my husband, and scared for myself.   In May he will be checking into yet another aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Nimitz (CVN 68).  The Nimitz means something to both of us.  It was my first TAD (temporary assigned duty) command.  It was his first command.  He was stationed on the USS Nimitz right out of his "A" school in 2001 until 2004 shortly before we had our first child.

The road to these new orders were interesting.  As we pondered and prayed over where we would be going next, we found these orders to be semi-available but our little Miles kept us in the running for this particular billet.  Because of his developmental delays, we are considered an "EFMP" family.  That means that we only can be stationed stateside and within five major cities.  Seattle area, Norfolk, San Diego, Jacksonville and Washington D.C.  It limits his ability to be stationed elsewhere but allows Miles access to a lot of different hospitals and therapies.  So although I was ready to flee from the gray, rainy days of Western Washington, Ahron snatched up these orders right away.

So now we are just a few short weeks away to being back to sea.  Three years on shore duty has brought us many experiences we never wanted or intended to have.  Two miscarriages.  Lots of family time....a vasectomy.  A very unexpected pregnancy. A new job and career path for me. Joy, laughter, sorrow, sadness, LIFE.

I am looking forward to what the next chapter will bring.